The Parent Teacher Association at Elmhurst is made up of the Chair (Addeel Khan), Deputy-Chair (Sania Ali), a secretary position that is shared out amongst members and a group of Elmhurst parents. The PTA is overseen by Ms Shaw, the Pupil and Parent Voice Coordinator as well as Ms Turner (Assistant Head) and Ms Samra (Headteacher). This year the PTA remains running and is an integral part of the school community. They meet once a month via zoom. New members are always encouraged and welcome to attend meetings. Now, more than ever, it is vital that the communication between parents and the school is strong. The PTA have met and decided on three key priorities for the year:
- Fundraising for Elmhurst families needing financial support
- Communicating with parents to ease anxieties and give reassurance
- Supporting withand promoting parent training
Please see below, the minutes from our recent and past meetings.
PTA Meeting June 25th 2021 Minutes:
1. Matters arising
• Mrs Silverwood started the meeting with an update on matters arising.
• Maths curriculum
Ms Silverwood restated that in the autumn term we will be using Maths Number Sense in KS1 with a focus on maths fluency and reasoning. Maths challenge is very much a focus and Ms Ahmed (Head of Year 2 and Maths Mastery Specialist) will be leading a workshop on Maths Number Sense for parents.
• Sex Education
Mrs Silverwood explained that we had our final Sex Education consultation on 8th June and following this there was a leadership meeting to discuss feedback from parents. Mrs Silverwood confirmed that the school will not be pressing ahead with changes to the Sex education curiculum this year since it has carefully listened to parent feedback. The final plans will be communicated to parents so that they can understand how their concerns have been addressed. Mrs Silverwood explained that the puberty talk for year 5 this year will use the old materials so no new materials will be used this year. If parents want to view the materials, do attend the year 5 puberty talks parent session on zoom next Thursday 1st July 4-5pm.
• Fundraising for Palestine
Mrs Silverwood explained that Mrs Islam and Ms Rahman have been working on raising awareness and support for Palestine. On 29th June, school staff will have a special lunch, organised by Seleha, to raise money for a charity supporting Palestine. At a later date there will also be a bake sale and goodie bags for children to purchase in class. It was stated by Fatma that we need more parents to support this fundraising initiative. For example, baking cakes as purchasing cakes can become expensive. It was mentioned that goodie bags being purchased in class will ensure no crossing of bubbles. Some parents commented that they were unaware of dates and details. Mrs Silverwood stated that she will confirm with Ms Islam and Ms Rahman details of items for children to purchase. Mumtaz suggested that a parentmail is sent out to parents to make it clear what is happening
• Curriculum focus
Mrs Silverwood reminded parents that there will be a curriculum focus in the next newsletter and asked what parents would like to see and if there are particular subjects that parents want to know about. Mrs Silverwood asked for parents to email with suggestions for a specific focus area as well as Q&As and asked for a PTA member to facilitate this. Mumtaz agreed to liaise with parents and email Mrs Silverwood by next week with feedback and suggestions for the newsletter. Adeel mentioned the importance of a school curriculum that is rich in diversity in terms of cultural background and gender. Miss Watson confirmed that the Equality and Diversity working party met yesterday and that we are focusing on this across our curriculum and this will continue to be a focus. Miss Watson explained that Ms Samra has made it clear that diversity and equality needs to be considered carefully by teachers when planning each subject and that it should be embedded within our curriculum and not taught separately. Some work has been done on this already and will continue into the next academic year.
2. Summer fair and year 4 protest
• Miss Watson explained that due to the government extending the current national Covid related restrictions to 19th July 2021, the summer fair has been postponed. Ms Samra stated that it will take place in the autumn term instead.
• Miss Watson advised that similarly the year 4 protest cannot go ahead on 1st July but has been rescheduled for the autumn term
3. Elmhurst food bank
• Miss Watson advised that the first in-house Elmhurst food bank will take place on Friday 2nd July at 3:30pm. We had a separate PTA meeting on Wednesday to organise it - Miss Watson explained that a parentmail has been sent to ask for donations and also to encourage those in need to attend. A poster has been added to our online noticeboard, Padlet, and will also be going up in all classrooms. Miss Watson said thank you to all those who attended the meeting and for offering to volunteer on the day
• Abid mentioned that some items are heavy to carry and suggested parents making monetary donations instead. Ms Turner mentioned that there would be subsequent time implications for staff members to place the food orders. Mumtaz suggested maybe a parent volunteer could take responsibility for ordering food items. Ms Turner stated that this was discussed at the additional PTA meeting and that we won’t this time as we’ll trial food donations but perhaps it is something to consider for the future. This food bank will be a trial and we can see how it goes and make necessary changes next time.
• Miss Watson advised that Padlet (to be used in place of a physical noticeboard in the KS2 playground) has been up and running for a couple of weeks. Miss Watson explained that we are trialling it this term and asked if any parents would like to feed back on whether it is being used and considered helpful.
• Abid commented that a user-friendly link could be used and suggested using a URL shortener. Abid recommended using the website Bitly. Fatma explained that she downloaded Padlet as an app and it was suggested that this could be shared with parents. A discussion took place regarding some parents feeling overwhelmed by the number of Parentmail communications being received. It was mentioned that some parents are receiving Parentmail about things that do not concern their children. This is something that will be addressed with teachers to ensure that only relevant recipients are selected when Parentmails are sent
• Ms Samra asked Abid if they could meet separately to discuss ways of improving our digital communication
5. Curriculum focus
• Computing curriculum - Mrs Silverwood introduced Ms O’Toole, our Computing lead. Ms Silverwood mentioned that the pandemic and the lockdown has had the benefit of forcing us to develop our computer skills across the school and Ms O’Toole agreed that we have had a strong year for Computing.
• Ms O’Toole explained that we’re currently going through a strong overhaul across our Computing curriculum and she shared what pupils need to know. She explained that there are 3 strands in the Computer curriculum - Computer Science, Information Technology and Digital Literacy
• Ms O’Toole shared the curriculum for Computing across the school year by year. Ms O’Toole explained that we are now focused on a more creative Computing curriculum, for example there is more of a problem solving focus in year 4 and a new Lego unit being introduced in September which Ms O’Toole shared. This creative curriculum means that our units are more engaging and exciting for pupils. Ms O’Toole commented that she has seen a clear improvement in pupils’ computing skills. For example, children were previously becoming unstuck when needing to explain their debugging process and were unable to identify where they had gone wrong but they are now much more confident in explaining what they have done, where they have encountered problems and how these problems can be solved. Ms O’Toole also shared new online safety lessons.
• Ms O’Toole is currently working on an intent statement which will be shared on our website soon. She shared details of a new Computing Hub which will support us, across the MAT, in developing our Computing intent and curriculum.
• Ms O’Toole explained that we have a set of 30 iPads for pupil use and she talked about the new chrome books purchased and the benefits of having these. We now have a total of 140 chromebooks. Three sets of 30 chromebooks will remain in school which means that 3 classes can use them at the same time
• Ms O’Toole ended by sharing our remote learning successes. During lockdown we loaned out 95 chromebooks to children and staff, 16 iPads, 70 pairs of headphones and 127 families have been supported with extra data allowance and wifi access. As a result, good quality live lessons were delivered daily, along with weekly certificate assemblies, sharing assemblies and a Safer Internet Day. Children, staff and parents are now more familiar with Google Classroom.
• Ms Samra thanked Ms O’Toole for a very comprehensive breakdown of our Computing curriculum and also for all the work she has done on developing our Computing curriculum across the school. Ms Samra thanked Ms O’Toole for her hard work and contribution during the school closures which helped to ensure that remote learning was a success at Elmhurst.
• Lots of parents praised the school for developing a fantastic Computing curriculum and joined Ms Samra in thanking Ms O’Toole for her hard work.
6. Election of new chair
• Miss Watson reiterated that Addeel will be stepping down from his role as PTA chair as he is joining the school governing body. Miss Watson explained the process for electing a new PTA chair:
o A letter will be sent out with details of the job role and containing a job description.
o An application form will be included in the letter and interested candidates can apply for the role by completing the form and stating why they are suitable for the role.
o Applicants will then be invited to speak at a PTA meeting to express their desire for taking on the role and to explain why they would be a good candidate.
o Following this, PTA members will vote using vote cards.
o Miss Watson stated that this process will start soon to ensure that we have elected a new PTA chair as soon as possible
• Ms Samra thanked Addeel, once again, for his huge contribution during his time as PTA chair and parents joined Ms Samra in praising the development of the PTA due to Addeel’s input and support.
• Ms Samra addressed the concern about the front gate being left open on a few occasions. Ms Samra explained that there have been a few times when the gate has been left open, due to it being broken, and the internal door that is accessed via office staff buzzing visitors in, has also been unlocked. This has meant that on a few rare occasions visitors have been able to access the Reception area without being buzzed in. Ms Samra agreed that office staff need to pay close attention to this and she will address this with office staff to ensure that this does not happen in the future.
• There was a discussion about which charity to use for funds raised for Palestine. Samia suggested Medical Aid for Palestine. Ms Samra stated that we must follow government advice and choose a charity carefully. A larger charity was suggested as being more suitable. Addeel commented that all charities are credible and he pointed out that some small charities have a 100% donation policy whereas some larger charities have large admin costs. It was agreed that Addeel would provide a list of potential charities to Ms Samra.
• Ms Samra made reference to the good turn out at the PTA meeting today and thanked parents for attending. Ms Samra noted that it was especially good to see dads attending and to hear all the lovely comments today. Ms Samra said that in partnership together we can make great improvements for the school.
• A parent mentioned the possibility of an evening PTA meeting. However, this was trialled previously and the turn out wasn’t very good.
1. Parent workshop on Maths Number Sense to be run for KS1 parents by Ms Ahmed
2. Year 5 puberty talks parent session taking place via zoom on Thursday 1st July 4-5pm
3. Fundraising for Palestine - details to be confirmed with Mrs Islam and Ms Rahman regarding bake sale and goodie bags for children to purchase in class. A Parentmail to be sent to communicate said details
4. Mumtaz to liaise with parents and email Mrs Silverwood by 2nd July with feedback and suggestions for curriculum focus and Q&As for the newsletter
5. School fair to take place in the autumn term
6. Year 4 protest march to take place in the autumn term
7. Elmhurst food bank to take place on Friday 2nd July
8. Miss Watson to look into creating a URL shortener for Padlet and share information on how to download Padlet as an app with parents
9. Ms Samra and Abid to meet to discuss ways of improving our digital communication
10. Ms O’Toole to share our Computing intent statement on the school’s website
11. Miss Watson to send out a letter detailing the role of PTA chair with accompanying application form
12. Ms Samra to address with office staff the issue of the door to our reception area being left unlocked
13. PTA to choose a charity to use for Palestine fundraising (Addeel to advise)
PTA Meeting May 28th 2021 Minutes:
1. Sex education consultation workshop feedback
• Ms Islam talked about the 4 consultation meetings held recently for parents in both KS1 and KS2. Another meeting has been scheduled for 8th June 6-7pm to accommodate working parents who were unable to attend. Ms Islam shared a summary of the consultation to date. It was strongly agreed amongst parents that although schools have a part to play, parents should take a lead on discussions based around sex education with their own children. Some parents would like support from school in relation to sex education. Parents would like greater clarity on how we address sex education in school in terms of content/resouces/age appropriateness.
• Ms Islam shared the sex education curriculum feedback. In summary, parents felt that the year 1 curriculum was fine. It was noted that some parents felt that the learning objectives in the year 2 curriculum could be met without the correct naming of private parts. Ms Islam advised that the school will discuss the year 5 curriculum and take account of the feedback. Parents felt that lessons taught in year 6 were not age-appropriate and some were not happy with the materials being used. Any further thoughts on this would be appreciated.
• School will hold the final consultation meeting on this and leadership will decide on what needs to be done going forward. Ms Islam confirmed that some things will be removed and some will be adapted. Parents will be consulted before any teaching starts.
• Ms Islam advised that parents can withdraw their children from this curriculum. However, the aim is to agree on a curriculum through the consultations to minimise the need for parents to withdraw their child from the lessons.
• A parent asked about same sex relationships. Ms Islam explained that parents have already been consulted on the relationships’ element of the curriculum and we already have a curriculum in place for this. The focus of the more recent consultations were on the sex education part.
• A parent suggested that we could make links with secondary schools on this and another parents suggested approaching single sex secondary schools
• Addeel raised the issue, on behalf of some PTA members, of digital literacy and language barriers meaning they are unable to attend online meetings. Ms Samra explained that we are hoping to meet in person soon for consultations and meetings, however, there has been a recent Covid case in the school (in year 2) so we need to continue to follow the school’s risk assessment and government guidelines and can only meet in person when it is safe to do so.
2. Fundraising to support Gaza (Palestine)
• Ms Islam explained that parents are keen to fundraise for Palestine but would also like some teaching in school on this subject. Newham has suggested some materials to share with children. Ms Islam asked if any parents have suggestions for how to proceed with this. There has been a lot of upset amongst parents regarding Palestine and parents want to feel that they are impacting on this situation.
• Ms Samra asked how we can express our voice as a school - not just a fundraising opportunity but an educational one. Suggestions from parents and Ms Silverwood included writing to the prime minister and the UN and speech writing opportunities. Debating was also a suggestion for giving children a voice.
• Addeel offered to put together some materials on the history etc.
• Ms Samra asked for some fundraising ideas on this - suggestions included cooking and bringing food in as well as donating books.
• Suggestion for a smaller group to come together and Fatma would like to be involved in this.
3. Maths curriculum and challenge
• Ms Lowe talked about the new guidance for the maths curriculum - looking at things in more depth and coherence. Ms Lowe explained that there is a strong emphasis on particular strands of calculations. Ms Lowe explained that nationally we know that many pupils give up maths at the earliest opportunity as they can’t cope with the demand of the KS3 curriculum. This is because they don’t have sufficient fluency in number facts or have been accelerated onto harder concepts too quickly early on. Ms Lowe noted that although this new curriculum has come out after the pandemic, it is not a recovery curriculum but a curriculum that the Maths Hub have been expecting for some time and is more in line with the curriculums in leading countries in maths.
• Ms Lowe advised that Elmhurst will look closely at what is being taught next year but there will be an emphasis on number and geometry as these are heavy strands. We want to prepare our pupils now and not wait for new textbooks to be published from the Maths No Problem scheme. Ms Lowe confirmed that we will be keeping children looking at numbers to 10 and odd and even numbers in year 1. She addressed the misconception that smaller numbers does not equate to simpler conceptions. She stressed that children need to be totally secure and fluent with number facts. There will be some children that need more support and there are some children who will need challenge. Ms Lowe clarified that challenge does not mean simply to give another activity but instead drawing children back to what they are learning and deepening their understanding.
• Ms Lowe shared a PowerPoint - a session that was done recently with teachers and discussed the importance of teaching systematically. Ms Lowe shared a range of strategies for solving addition facts and explained that counting on (and back) in ones has got to stop as it’s not an efficient strategy.
• Ms Samra said this is the start of curriculum conversations with parents. We have been working on our curriculum and we are keen to share this with parents so that parents have a real understanding. We are going to start inviting parents in for workshops on our curriculum - parents may need support on knowing how to support their children at home and to understand our teaching
• Q&As to be sent to Ms Silverwood for the next newsletter which will focus solely on our curriculum.
• Ms Lowe advised that year 1 children next year will complete Maths Numbers Sense in the autumn term. Ms Samra will be asking Ms Ahmed (Head of Year 2), who is a Maths Mastery Specialist, to run a parent workshop on Maths Number Sense.
• Addeel raised his concerns about there not being enough focus on curriculum in our PTA meetings. Ms Samra suggested that we have a curriculum item on the agenda each meeting.
• Addeel raised concerns about children who have not fallen behind during the pandemic and are becoming bored of maths. Ms Lowe is happy to meet separately with Addeel to discuss further.
4. Year 4 protest march
• Ms Silverwood talked about a project called Connecting Classrooms. This involves schools in the UK linking up with schools abroad. We have link schools in Ghana and Kenya. Year 4 has been looking at sustainability, discussing the effects of climate change and how to be activists. This has been built into the year 4 curriculum by Ms Rehman. Year 4 have been working with Andrew Mutter (Art Consultant) to create artwork and also working on writing their own speeches on the environment.
• There will be a protest march on 1st July starting at school at 9:30am. Children in year 4 will walk along Green Street, sharing some of their speeches on the way and then head back to school. The local MP Stephen Timms will also be present. Any additional adults would be helpful on the day.
5. Fundraising for India
Miss Watson shared the success of recent non-uniform days to raise money for India in light of the devastating second wave of Coronavirus. The school has raised £1026 so far. Thank you to everyone who donated.
6. Mosaic project
Miss Watson reiterated that Saleha needs volunteers on Tuesdays and Wednesdays to help with the large scale mosaic artwork which will eventually go on the wall in the KS1 playground. If you would like to volunteer to help with the project, please contact Saleha on 07828823379. A parent suggested that a parentmail should be sent out to remind parents and Miss Watson will do this on Monday 7th June.
7. Community funding proposals update
Miss Watson advised that due to none of our 3 proposals falling under the chosen 3 priority areas (Parks & Green Spaces, Community Safety and Cleaner Environment), we are unable to re-submit our proposals for local funding. However, as a local community we will no doubt benefit from improvements made by the projects that do receive funding.
8. Food bank
Miss Watson explained that Hope 4 Humanity have advised us of new guidance from the council which ultimately means families paying an annual membership fee of £3 and an additional £5 charge each time they visit the food bank. We have responded to say that Ms Samra is not happy about charging our vulnerable families for use of the food bank and therefore moving forward we will run an independent in-house food bank once a month. We will need volunteers between the hours of 2 and 4pm on food bank days. Some parents kindly volunteered to help and a parentmail will be sent to ask for further support and food donations. The date for the next food bank will be confirmed after the half term break.
Miss Watson advised that Padlet (to be used in place of a physical noticeboard in the KS2 playground) has been set up. We are just sorting permissions and then this will go live after the half term break. Padlet will be trialled during the final summer term.
10. Summer fair
Miss Watson confirmed the date for the summer fair - Tuesday 6th July. Miss Watson explained that we would like volunteers to help organise, set up and run the fair. There will be a separate meeting with Ms Turner and Miss Watson after the half term break. A parentmail will be sent out to ask for support with the fair.
Ms Samra congratulated Addeel on becoming a school governor. Addeel confirmed that he will need to step down from the PTA Chair role and his last PTA meeting will be June 25th.
1. PTA meetings to include a curriculum focus in each meeting.
2. Parent workshop on Maths Number Sense to be run for KS1 parents this term by Ms F Ahmed.
3. School to discuss challenge in Maths lessons to ensure rapid graspers are not bored in lessons.
4. School to hold final Sex Education consultation on 8th June between 6-7pm followed by guidance to parents on what the agreed curriculum and approaches look like after the consultation.
5. School to approach single sex schools and secondary schools as part of its research on delivering its Sex Education curriculum - this can span into next year.
6. Ms Islam to lead on humanitarian & educational work linked to Palestine this term.
7. Curriculum information to be shared in a special newsletter in the summer term by Ms Silverwood.
8. Parentmail invitation to all parents to participate in the Mosaic Project.
9. Summer run Food Bank to be organised this month.
10. Separate Summer fair meeting to organise the event.
11. PTA to elect a new Chair on 25th June or start the process.